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    SCC to host COP17

    Sandton Convention Centre has been chosen as the host venue for CITES CoP17 from 24 September to 2 October 2016 – the first time that a CITES Conference of Parties meeting will be held in Johannesburg. It will be the fourth CITES CoP meeting held in Africa since 1975, but the first on the continent since 2000.

    Approximately 2 000 delegates from 180 countries, as well as non-governmental organisations and civil society will attend CITES CoP17, engaging in dynamic debate on issues related to the conservation and protection of plant and animal species for future generations, including rhinoceros and elephant, according to CITES.

    CITES regulates international trade in over 35 000 species of plants and animals, including their products and derivatives, ensuring their survival in the wild with benefits for the livelihoods of local people and the global environment. The CITES permit system aims to ensure that international trade in listed species is sustainable, legal and traceable.

    The organisation of CITES CoP17 will be coordinated by the Department of Environmental Affairs in cooperation with various government departments and a local organising committee.

    “It is an honour to be able to provide a platform for robust international discussion and debate that is likely to have a significant impact on future generations,” says Sandton Convention Centre Executive Director Mati Nyazema. “We certainly have the facilities, the experience and know-how, and the high standards of service excellence to deliver a smooth-running CoP17, but we also have the ideal location in the heart of the Sandton business district, easily accessible to the outside world and adjacent to one of the prime shopping, restaurant, hotel, and entertainment areas in the country.”

    Setup for CoP17 will start on 20 September with the conference opening on the 24th. “This is a huge international event incorporating a major conference as well as solid separate meetings for the full two weeks. The SCC will be the hub of thought leadership and far-reaching decision-making and every effort will be made to ensure that all the services we provide facilitate these important sessions,” adds Nyazema. The SCC will provide the full range of facilities, including food & beverage and technological and audio/visual services.

    CITES Secretary-General John Scanlon notes that South Africa was among the first States to join CITES, and that it has been a very active participant in the work of the Convention ever since. “South Africa is a highly appropriate location for CoP17 given the frontline wildlife challenges and opportunities being tackled on the African continent. Africa is home to a vast array of CITES-listed species and South Africa is globally recognised for ‘the Big Five’. Holding the Conference in such surroundings should inspire all delegates, and CITES Parties and observers look forward to meeting in South Africa in 2016 for the world wildlife conference,” he adds.

    South Africa will have an opportunity to showcase its biodiversity and conservation successes to the rest of the world during the CITES event – and participants in the Conference will have access to national parks, nature reserves, botanical and zoological gardens, historical sites, and other biodiversity areas.

    Minister of Environmental Affairs, Edna Molewa, says, “We are very proud to be part of CITES. It is a body based on science and it is possible that without the CITES member countries, there could have been an extinction of several species without anyone noticing. We are helping the world to preserve species that could be threatened.”

    Discussions at CITES CoP17 are expected to include the plight of the rhino, the threats being faced by the African elephant and pangolin, as well as implementation issues such as the coordination of initiatives by Parties that arise from evidence-based information, adds Molewa.

    “CITES CoP17 will bring a welcome spotlight on the plight on some of our endangered species, as well as on our world-class conservation efforts. It will be a proud moment for us as a company, a city and indeed a country,” says Nyazema.

    For more information on Sandton Convention Centre, log on to www.saconvention.co.za, join the Facebook page on http://www.facebook.com/SandtonConventionCentre or follow on Twitter at @SandtonEvents.




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